A man has been charged after a shark was snatched from a tank at a Texas aquarium and then smuggled out in a pram, according to local police.
The female grey horn shark, called Helen, was soon recovered and returned to the San Antonio Aquarium after police tracked down the suspect’s vehicle on Monday.
Officers said the suspect, who kept other marine animals in his garage, gave up the 16-inch shark when confronted at his home.
Leon Valley Police Chief, Joseph Salvaggio, said two other suspects, a man and a woman, are currently being questioned in connection with the theft.
He told local media he believed the shark had been stolen to replace one in the suspect’s collection that had died, rather than to be sold on.
‘She’s a survivor’
Staff at the aquarium, in the Texas city of San Antonio, said they were “overjoyed” to have Helen returned safely.
Jamie Shank, San Antonio Aquarium assistant husbandry director, said due to the swift actions of the aquarium’s staff and police, Helen had been retrieved before suffering any real harm, although she added the shark had suffered a minor injury to its belly.
She said that the shark had also endured the additional trauma of being transported in water about 20F colder than she was used to and that staff were now monitoring her for signs of stress.
“We didn’t know if we would get her back,” she said. “I was devastated when I found out that it happened but now that we have her here I am overjoyed.
“It’s phenomenal, I cannot believe what she has been through. She is a little fighter, she’s a survivor. I am very proud of her.”
Men ‘staked out shark tank’
In a statement, the aquarium said two men “staked out the pool for more than an hour” before making off with the shark while a staff member was busy helping other guests.
CCTV released by the aquarium shows one of the men repeatedly reaching into the shark tank before snatching out Helen and walking off out of frame.
He then emerges with the shark wrapped in a towel and places it in a pram before heading for the exit.
Staff at the aquarium said they were alerted at the time and a member challenged the two men in the car park but they refused to give entry to their vehicle.
Garage was ‘mock-up of aquarium’
Police Chief Salvaggio said officers had swiftly tracked down the vehicle and located the home of one of the men seen in the CCTV footage.
He said the man allowed officers into his home without the need for a warrant and showed them to where the shark was.
“When we got into the garage and into the house it looked like almost a mockup of here [the aquarium],” said Mr Salvaggio.
“He had a lot of different marine animals in the home. [He] very much knew what he was doing and kept that animal alive and was able to continue to see the animal thrive, which was pretty shocking to all of us”.
Police said a 38-year-old charged with theft and two others were due to be questioned.
The suspects could also face federal charges in connection with breaching regulations around transporting sharks.
Mr Salvaggio told reporters he thought the suspect had intended to add the shark, which is valued at around $2,000 (£1,500), to his collection rather than sell it on.
He added: “From looking at the other animals there, more than likely [the shark] was something that he wanted.
“He had had one of these in the past, I think the animal had died sometime in the past, so obviously he likes those types of animals.”
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/31/man-charged-shark-stolen-texas-aquarium-smuggled-pram/